I’m becoming. I’m becoming authentic. I’m becoming solid in the fact that I am good at my job, that I deserve to be in front of these students each day, just as much as any white, cishet male counterparts with degrees from way up North. I’m becoming solid in the understanding that by accepting my own identities (and the privileges and oppressions that come with them) I can clear space for my students to do the same.
I have found that academia can offer a lower-class West Virginian from a single-mother family the chance to live an illusion. I have been able to travel countries, gain audiences of affluent scholars, and been given a platform for my voice that I would not have received outside of academia.
When this goes down in history, we don’t want the story to be that teachers went on a nine-day strike. We want the story to be that this was the beginning of a snowball effect of wonderful things happening for West Virginia. I think that in order for that to happen, we have to “Remember in November.”
Given this picture of the state as defined by poverty, it is little wonder that West Virginia became known for its support of Donald Trump and his promise to “make America great again.” But, here in West Virginia, there is also a sense that our collective longing for the good old days has been hanging around for quite some time.